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Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sex

The pain of RA does not have to mean the end of sexual intimacy.

Sex, Intimacy, and RA: More Than Just Sex continued...

"The sense of touch is the most healing," she says. "A lot of people with arthritis don't get massages because they feel discomfort. But being touched by their partner, whom they love and adore, can be healing."

Cadell suggests that you start by saying, "I miss you." Then you can ask for little things like a hug. Bringing intimacy up, she tells WebMD, can re-create that bond that's sometimes severed by an illness. "When one person is ill and the other isn't," says Cadell, "the other person feels helpless." As a result, your partner may be afraid to initiate intimacy because your partner doesn't want to hurt you or be rejected.

Talking about your feelings toward your partner helps your partner feel wanted. It can also let him or her know that advances will not be made in vain.

Sex, Intimacy, and RA: The Value of Experimentation

When you have RA, using sexual aids such as the Liberator line of pillows designed to support you where you can't support yourself can help. "These are wonderful props that can take the pressure off where it hurts," Cadell tells WebMD.

Experimenting with positions is another way to improve the quality of your sexual relationship. Cadell says there are many different sexual positions to try depending on which joints are affected by RA.

Bergman says it comes down to trial and error. "There are certain positions that may be uncomfortable," he says, "but others may be very satisfactory."

Sex, Intimacy, and RA: Managing Your RA Makes a Difference

Bergman tells WebMD that much of the same advice that applies to other aspects of life with RA applies to sexuality. For starters, he says, it's important to take your RA medication regularly. "Skipping medication doses will only increase your pain," he says.

Treating RA early and aggressively can move almost half of all people with this disease into remission, Bergman says. "This approach to treatment means that questions about sex may never come up."

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Reviewed on May 18, 2009

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